Crash On My Couch, George

14 01 2019

Berlin;  Washington

George, you can crash on my couch for a few days, and do what I do, if you want to see the truth.  Otherwise, for you to have come up with this conclusion must mean you spent about sixty seconds in Berlin and in a strategically chosen venue.

If you ask me, the exemplars of unitary nation-state German history are much of the Kaiserreich era, and the first two decades of West Germany.

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Assassination Attempt, Pure and Simple

8 01 2019

Bremen

He’s the AfD organizational leader for the city-state of Bremen, and is also in the Bundestag.

After a gang of Antifa got done with him on New Year’s Eve.  The only reason he survived is because some passersby chased the assailants off and called 112.

Last week, an AfD office in Döbeln, about halfway between Leipzig and Dresden, was bombed.

Here’s how the mainline paper in Bremen covered it, they softpedaled how serious it was.





Neujahr (Seven Hours Early)

31 12 2018

Cologne

What a difference a year can make.

When 2018 rang in, while I had regained functional coherence a month and a half prior, it wouldn’t be for yet another couple of weeks, the middle of January, that my short term memory would roar back. Many of you will remember that in the mid-November 2017 to mid-January 2018 time frame, I was writing posts here again, but I didn’t remember who many of you were by name. Even when my short term memory came back, I was faced with the prospect of trying to pick up the pieces, figuratively thousands of them lying on the ground, and trying to figure out if I could do anything with my life other than coast for the rest of it off of what would be my insurance settlement.

If you would have told me when 2018 rang in that 2018 ringing out would see me living in Germany and doing a really neat productive job, in spite of no real physical recovery, and everything else that transpired through the year to make that possible, I would have told you that you were some kind of crazy.

When we were younger, we all had fantastic dreams about our future. But at some point, we had to bite the bullet and confess that we were blowing smoke up our own asses when it came to the most outlandish and extremely high percentile career track fantasies, and readjust our expectations around reality. And so it was with me. But I can now honestly say that, for the first time in my life, my professional life is more than one standard deviation above the realistic median I supposed in my younger years. I could even make the case for two standard deviations.

I can also say that, for the first time in a long time, I am content on a consistent basis. And that’s not an easy thing to pop off — As most of you long termers can probably deduce, I’m not naturally given to happiness.

So, that’s the long and short of it. I’m finally living the American dream, except my American dream done upped and moved to Germany. It also just so happened along the way to have cost me the proper use of my legs and a certain element of masculine functionality, both probably for good. But hey, it’s like Thanos might say, the best things in life have the steepest cost. Best life, highest membership dues.

I’ll be ringing in 2019 tonight, albeit in a nice indoors venue and gathering. No mood to be outdoors — Remember, it was here in this very city just three short years ago that the worst of the mass gang rapes happened, even though they also happened in other German cities. I’ll also be ringing in a brand new year seven hours earlier than I’m accustomed.





What I Did On My Christmas Break

31 12 2018

Your Blogmeister’s German Desk

A short business trip in what was the week between Christmas and the New Year.

My three stops were: Würzburg, Hof and Nuremberg.

The first two were brand new to me, and Hof and the Vogtland also gave me the opportunity to make a brief diversion to the town of Gefell, which allowed me to clinch the German state of Thuringen (“Thuringia”), and also return ever so briefly to the former East Germany, my first time doing so since the summer voyage, and the first time since moving here. Meaning the only state I have yet to visit is Mecklenburg-Vorpommen (“Mecklenburg-Pomerania”), which I will most likely do in February, as part of my Warsaw trip. Gefell also has the Mödlareuth Museum, which contains a preserved section of the physical section of the Iron Curtain, on what was then the East-West Germany border, now the border between the states of Bavaria and Thuringia.  The ‘Curtain itself actually divided the very tiny village of Mödlareuth.

I’ll probably eventually come back to Thuringia, specifically to the state capital of Erfurt for one reason or another in the relatively near future. Erfurt is the only Luther themed city I didn’t visit over the summer, mainly because it was kind of out of the way. Erfurt, of course, being the home of Martin Luther’s academic alma mater.

Vogtland was once its own potentate, but nowadays is just a general area, split between the modern day German states of Bavaria, Thuringia, Saxony, and a little bit of it extends into the Czech Republic, also meaning that the Iron Curtain once split it. Similar to how most of the defunct Franconia is now in Bavaria, and most of the defunct Swabia is now in Baden-Württemberg with a little bit in Bavaria. Incidentally, both Würzburg and Nuremberg are historically and culturally Franconian cities that happen to be in the current Bavarian state. Bavaria being way bigger than its historical norm, largely because of Napoleonic-era military-politics.

Würzburg is the native city of one Dirk Nowitski, the last white man to win NBA MVP (2007), and also one of his young teammates on the Dallas Mavericks this season, Max Kleber.

As for Nuremberg, (please, no Burt Lancaster puns), during the summer voyage, we had to give Nuremberg short shrift and only see it superficially, because of a fortuitous circumstance in the western Czech Republic;  those of you who know me already know the circumstances. So the two days in Nuremberg and surrounding cities this week allowed me to fill in those gaps. Nuremberg was, and still is to an extent, a hardware CSIT-STEM city in the modern era, but it has lost a good chunk of that industry in very recent years.

Close to Nuremberg is what by all rights on the maps appears just to be an “ein-pferd-stadt,” if the German language used that as an idiom, that being Herzogenaurach. In reality, Herzogenaurach has the world headquarters of both Adidas and Puma. Two brothers cofounded Adidas, but later had a bad falling out, one walked out, and started Puma. For a long time, Herzogenaurach was split down the middle between the two. Eventually, after the two original brothers died, the ice thawed between the separate sides of the family and their vassals. Still, the two firms remain fierce rivals today, and various sides of the same extended family are still involved with them to this day.





Weihnachten

24 12 2018

Cologne

When you get as middle aged as I am, you get to a point that Christmas seems like the same old same old every year, and might I add, you get through with one and it seems like the next one is right upon you.

But then you get lucky enough to move to and live in the most Christmasey place on Earth, and you wind up rediscovering the magic feeling.  I feel like this is my first Christmas of my conscience lifetime, all over again.

Tonight, I’ll be going to Midnight Mass at Cologne Cathedral.  On my bucket list is M/M at The Vatican, in spite of the current year Pope — Maybe next year.

And just like on Thanksgiving, I’ll be spending Weihnachtentag tomorrow definitely not alone, and with a batch of the family pork sausage dressing recipe in tow, and later on tomorrow night, I’ll Skype my family’s Christmas gathering back home.





Fun House of Mirrors

19 12 2018

Hamburg

Gefälschtenachrichten.

Believe me, if there was the kind of “border militia” that Class claimed there was, the Poverty Palace would have already sued it out of existence. That should have been everybody’s first clue.

Remember, Der Spiegel sits on top of the German mainstream media pyramid, even though it’s only a weekly slick.  This would be like the New York Times having a star young-ish reporter filing a boatload of fake stories, which we all know would never happen.





Local Boy Does Good (“Was Ist Diese Flagge?”)

8 12 2018

Düsseldorf

Remember this flag I brought with me on the move?

I told you I brought it with me because I figured I’d have a use for it.  And that I did, yesterday, in Düsseldorf.

Over the summer voyage, I found that Bremen is the German city that most holistically reminds me of St. Louis.  During our day there, I saw in the local media that the soccer team in town not long before that signed an 18-year old native St. Louisan by the name of Josh Sargent, grew up in St. Charles County, and he is indeed a rookie on the team this season.  He started the season on the club’s kinda-sorta JV squad (U-23), but was just recently called up to the big team.

The way the German Soccer Bundesliga works is the way most countries’ soccer club leagues work, in that every team in the league plays one game at home and one on the road against every other team.  The Region here has five teams in the league:  Mönchengladbach, Düsseldorf, Leverkusen, Gelsenkirchen, and Dortmund, the latest being the best team in the league so far this year.  The Bundesliga is basically a two-team league, Munich and Dortmund, and Munich is having a down year by its standards this season, after having won the league for the last 87 years in a row, so this opens up the door for Dortmund.  Incidentally, Leverkusen is where Bayer is based, and Bayer sponsors the team — I wonder if part of the deal is free aspirin for the players for getting headaches because of all the time bouncing soccer balls off their heads.

Furthermore, the second tier soccer league in Germany, called Zweite Bundesliga (“Zweite” = Second), has three teams in the region:  Cologne, Duisburg and Bochum.  Meaning combining both top and second leagues, there are eight soccer teams, just here in my 10 million population region.  Promotion and relegation of teams up and down among tiers and classes of leagues is the device that contributes to some semblance of parity in sports cultures that use that system and within leagues.  The United States doesn’t have P&R on the pro level, so back home, what enforces parity is the reverse standings amateur draft, and of course, amateur drafts don’t exist in P&R cultures at all.

Anyway, this means that Bremen is making five trips to The Region this season, to play their one away game against each of the five teams here.

I fully intended to go to one, but it was just a matter of timing:  Whether I had something else and more important to do, and whether Sargent was promoted to the big club.  Bremen’s game at Dortmund doesn’t happen until May, and Dortmund tickets are really hard to get, being as the team is so good.  (Though right now, because some fans are on strike against going to the games because they have a burr up their saddle about Monday night games, for some reason, that’s not so true at the moment.)

All the stars lined up yesterday, for Bremen’s game at Düsseldorf.  So I went.

The only X-Factor was whether Sargent would start, and if he didn’t, whether he would get in the game as an in-game substitution.

As luck had it, while the former didn’t happen, the latter did.  It was his first playing time in the Bundesliga.  Even better, he scored a late game goal in Bremen’s 3-1 win.

When Sargent’s entry into the game was announced, I yelled out “YO JOSH” from where I was sitting, and waved my St. Louis flag.  Unfortunately, he didn’t hear me, even though a lot of people around me did.  Not a surprise that my voice didn’t make it that far away or down:  One thing that became perfectly evident about German professional soccer games is that the crowd is constantly and steadily loud, with only a few breaks of being a little less loud, then getting ear splitting when someone scores a goal.  The way I figure, at this game, around 40% of the crowd were Bremen fans, even though it was an away game for them.  Then again, it’s not a long haul between one city and another in Germany.  That, and Düsseldorf is in last place, so I’m sure their fans were in a ticket-unloading mood — Which is how I was able to score one myself so easily.

Naturally, there was a lot of curiosity about the piece of cloth on a stick I was carrying around.  And I anticipated there would be.  Lots of people were carrying and waving lots of flags, but Germans don’t get the opportunity to see the flag of the city of St. Louis every day.

While High German is not that morphologically similar to English, some words and phrases are just obvious.  Such as an interrogatory directed my way quite a few times during my several hours at the stadium in Düsseldorf:

Was Ist Diese Flagge?

Before going to the game, I pre-loaded the Wikipedia pages for both St. Louis and Sargent into tabs of the browser (Brave) on my sail foam.  So that when I was inevitably asked about the flag, all I had to do was pull out my foam and my passport and do a lot of pointing, to make it understood that I was there to show out for the homeboy.

Because he and I have something in common:  We’re both St. Louisans trying to make our career bones in Germany.